Indian Air Force (IAF) frontline fighter Sukhoi Su-30MKI will soon be equipped with indigenous "eyes" to detect even a radar-evading stealth aircraft possessed by India's adversaries in day and night conditions. The Sukhoi Su-30MKI already has a radar that can detect and track the supposed stealth Chinese fighter Chengdu J-20 but with the government deciding to develop a Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for the aircraft under ‘Make II’ sub-category, the IAF jet will be able to locate any plane with stealth characteristics. The IRST can detect and track fighter jets, helicopters and missiles which emit infrared radiation.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Monday approved the procurement of equipment for the Defence Forces valued at over Rs. 6,900 crore including the development of the IRST for Su-30MKI. "The DAC also accorded approval for undertaking Design and Development of the Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for SU-30 MKI aircraft under ‘Make II’ sub category and subsequently, for procurement of at least 100 IRSTs under ‘Buy (Indian–IDDM) category. The system will be able to operate in day and night conditions and will substantially enhance the capabilities of the aircraft," the government press release said.
In November 2017, the IAF had issued a questionnaire on the IRST and asked: Can the equipment be installed in the Su-30 MKI aircraft without making any structural changes in the aircraft? What is the cooling requirement of the equipment? What is the search range of the equipment in terms of the field of view? Can the equipment undertake automatic tracking? If yes, in what zones of search? Can the equipment undertake air target ranging? What is the maximum track range? Can the ground target detection and ranging be done by the equipment? Ifyes, what are the ranges? What are the detection ranges in RHS and FHS with respect to the target? Can the equipment undertake multi target tracking? If yes, how many targets can be tracked simultaneously?
Here is the full list of 30 questions asked by the IAF:
1. Whether the company/Association of Persons (AoP) is eligible as per provisions of DPP 2016? (Eligibility of Participation: Indian vendors only).
2. Whether the vendor can provide an assessment of its capability (Financial and Technical)? If so provide the necessary documentation for verification.
3. Whether 40% Indigenous Composition (IC) can be ensured?
4. Does the vendor envisage the feasibility of achieving future exports?
5. Whether the vendor’s proposal would be eligible for Make-I or Make-II subcategory of Chapter III of DPP 2016?
6. Whether R&D or ToT through foreign collaboration is proposed by the vendor?
7. Estimated cost of development in case indigenous R&D is proposed?
8. Estimated tentative time period of completion of R&D or ToT.
9. Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) cost of 100 IRST units to be manufactured in India.
10. Can the equipment meet following broad classification? Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaged Search and Track System (IRST) for Su-30 MKI aircraft
11. Can the equipment be installed in the Su-30 MKI aircraft without making any structural changes in the aircraft?
12. What is the cooling requirement of the equipment?
13. What is the search range of the equipment in terms of the field of view?
14. Can the equipment undertake automatic tracking? If yes, in what zones of search?
15. Can the equipment undertake air target ranging? What is the maximum track range?
16. Can the ground target detection and ranging be done by the equipment? If yes, what are the ranges?
17. What are the detection ranges in RHS and FHS with respect to the target?
18. Can the equipment undertake multi target tracking? If yes, how many targets can be tracked simultaneously?
19. Can the equipment output the video data? If yes, what is the information content in the video and what is the signal format of the video output?
20. Will be equipment be single dome configuration? Will the equipment have stowing capability?
21. Can the equipment be matched with aircraft mission computer software? What are the ICD requirements of the equipment to ensure full exploitation of capabilities of the equipment?
22. Can the equipment be interfaced with video conversion unit of the aircraft so that the equipment video is directly connected to the Multi Function Display of the aircraft?
23. What are the wavelengths of the laser used in the equipment?
24. What is the maximum range for laser ranging?
25. What is the maximum time that the equipment can be switched ON in air? Is there any restriction on switching ON time in air?
26. What is the maximum power requirement of the equipment?
27. What are the maintenance activities recommended on the equipment before daily use and also the periodic servicing?
28. What are the weight and transport specifications of the equipment?
29. What is the extent of testing of the equipment when mounted in aircraft by using the test equipment?
30. What are the reliability figures of the equipment?
A couple of months back, the IAF revealed that the Sukhoi Su-30MKI radar can see the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) operated Chengdu J-20 hundreds of kilometres away IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa had said the "Su-30 radar is good enough and can pick it (J-20) up from many kilometers away". He made the comment when asked if the J-20 which was "invisible to the radar" could be a threat.